Charlotte will turn 17 months old later this week and it’s already hard to remember what life was like without her..but I do still remember the day she was born, and fortunately I jotted down some notes a month or two after her birth day to help me finally write her birth story! It’s shorter than Emma’s because, well, Charlotte was raring to go and arrived in about 1/3 of the time. What they say about labor and delivery getting faster with subsequent pregnancies was definitely true for me.
Lovely rainbow over our neighborhood less than 48 hours before Charlotte was born!
Charlotte was born on a Wednesday, but the story really begins the night before. My mom had been in town for over a week by then, waiting for her 5th grandchild to arrive and ready to stay with Emma while Jose and I were at the hospital. As we ate dinner on Tuesday night, Emma’s suddenly said “when I wake up from this nap, my baby will be here!” Back then — and sometimes still today — she calls any kind of sleeps a “nap” whether it’s an actual short nap or a full night’s slumber…and her statement turned out to be some really weird foreshadowing!
The rest of that evening was pretty low key. I sewed a little, working on the quilt I was making for my niece Elizabeth. In the background, Jose was watching a random PBS documentary about Vladimir Putin and some of his decidedly less-than-noble actions over the years. (This memory is particularly interesting? concerning? alarming? as I write it now with the entire 2016 election cycle and inauguration behind us. Yeesh.)
Around 11:15, I decided to take a shower. This was unusual, since I nearly always shower in the morning, but I hadn’t taken one that day for some reason and I distinctly remember thinking that if I went into labor that night, I wanted to at least have clean hair! As Jose fell asleep in bed next to me, I put my headphones on to watch NASA TV on my phone. There was a Soyuz launch that night, so I stayed up long enough to see that it was safely in orbit. I finally went to sleep around midnight.
Next thing I knew, I was wide awake again. The first thing I noticed was that it was still completely dark outside. Then I noticed that I felt rather crampy. And immediately after that, I realized I might be having contractions! I started timing them, and found that they coming regularly about 9 minutes apart. I wondered whether I should get up — I never experienced a moment like this with Emma since my water broke with her, and by the time contractions started I was in the hospital and knew exactly what was going on. It was only 4:45 a.m. so I decided to stay in bed, even though there was absolutely no way I could fall back asleep at that point.
An hour later, I finally decided that today was probably going to be the day, so I got up and tip-toed into the bathroom to finish putting together my overnight bag. I’d had it mostly ready to go, but needed to throw in some last-minute items like my glasses. I had butterflies in my stomach (in addition to, you know, the baby) and remember feeling a mixture of both excitement and anxiety about the day ahead.
At 6, right as I was coming back into the bedroom from the bathroom, Jose stirred. I froze in the light of the doorway for a moment before finally simply saying “I’m having contractions.” I knew this would get him going, and it did. He practically leaped out of bed and was ready to head out the door immediately — which is actually why I hadn’t woken him up earlier! I knew he’d want to leave as soon as possible. I told him the contractions were still far apart, but he was concerned that things would happen faster than we expected.
Still, there were a few more things to do. I woke up my mom to tell her what was going on, and then called my doctor’s on-call line to leave a message. I was going to wait until someone called me back…but Jose wanted to go. I also wanted to eat some breakfast…but Jose wanted to go. Finally I went back into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and reemerged to find Jose frantically waving me towards the front door.
That sent me into tears. Jose understandably wanted to get to the hospital, but he couldn’t see how my brain was swirling with emotions. I was uncomfortable from the contractions, stressed by his hurriedness, sad that I wasn’t going to get to say goodbye to Emma, and just really, really nervous about everything to come.
We talked for a minute and both calmed down. My contractions had been slowly increasing in frequency and were 6-7 minutes apart by this point, so even though my doctor hadn’t called by we agreed to head to the hospital. We saw the morning rush hour starting to build as we made the short trip, and walked in to the hospital right at 7:00.
To be continued…